A Government spokeswoman has taken serious issue with a claim made by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley in Parliament this week.
In fact, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner has described as “a blatant untruth”, Mottley’s declaration that construction on the US$200 million Wyndham Grand Resort in St Philip was started without the requisite Town & Country Planning approval.
Responding to Tuesday’s Budget presentation by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Mottley further accused Government of flouting the law by starting construction of the luxury hotel property at the site formerly occupied by Sam Lord’s Castle, having only applied for approval just two months ago.
“Senator Sandiford-Garner [in] a Facebook posting talking about building H4 going up. Would you believe yet again this Government is breaching the law in the constituency of the Attorney General [Adriel Brathwaite], building the building without Town Planning permission?” Mottley told the Lower House on Wednesday.
But speaking to Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of a tourism town hall meeting at Hilton Barbados Resort on Thursday, Sandiford-Garner said it was “unfortunate” that Mottley had sought to bring the project into disrepute.
“It is unfortunate that we have these situations in politics in Barbados because I think this is one of the reasons that Barbadians are disillusioned with politics,” the Government Senator said.
“I am a politician and this is not the politics I subscribe to. I believe that the politics of explanation can solve a lot of problems and when you start with an untruth you certainly cannot turn it around.
“This ‘gotcha’ politics wears thin. We have just started to lay the foundation for the beachfront properties which are being built on the original CLICO footprints, which was approved by Town & Country planning years ago,” Sandiford-Garner explained.
However, Mottley contended even though the sections of the Wyndham project were covered by the CLICO plans, the overall development was still awaiting planning approval.
“What they had from the Chief Town Planner from before was simply the permission from the previous CLICO buildings, which they are not using the architecture for and they had to re-submit,” the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader stressed.
However, Sandiford-Garner, who is the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s candidate for St Andrew, argued that it made sense to jumpstart the project, which has been plagued with delays, by commencing work on the areas for which permission had already been granted, until full approval was given.
“Things are happening slowly but we have to start our work and what we saw was the block facing the beach and this Government, contrary to what was said, is not breaking
“These statements, if they were made outside of Parliament, would then deserve the action of a lawyer, but you can speak with impunity in the Lower House,” cautioned Sandiford-Garner, who accused Mottley of impugning the integrity of her ministry and that of the Chief Town Planner.
“It is unfair to them to have that type of allegation made against them because they are the ones who push the paper; they are the ones who do the administrative work. So you are saying that they advised illegally. These are people who drive the process so when you level an accusation, you level it at them,” she argued.